Is a Handwritten Will Legal in Alberta? Understanding the Legal Requirements

Types of Wills

There are primarily two types of wills recognized in Alberta: formal wills and holographic wills. Formal wills are typically prepared with the assistance of a lawyer and are signed by the testator (the person making the will) and witnesses. On the other hand, holographic wills, also known as handwritten wills, are created and signed entirely by the testator without the presence of witnesses.

Validity of Handwritten Wills in Alberta

According to the Wills and Succession Act of Alberta, holographic wills are recognized as legally valid if certain conditions are met. These conditions include:

1. Handwriting: The entire will must be handwritten by the testator.

2. Signature: The will must be signed by the testator.

3. Intent: The document must clearly indicate the testator's intention to create a will.

4. Date: The will should include the date it was created to establish its timeline.

Notably, holographic wills do not require witnesses’ signatures to be considered legally valid in Alberta, unlike formal wills. However, it is strongly advisable to have witnesses present whenever possible to provide additional evidence of the testator’s intent and mental capacity if needed.

Risks of a handwritten will

While holographic wills offer a simpler and more accessible option for individuals to create their wills, they also come with certain risks. Handwritten wills may be prone to misinterpretation, ambiguity, or disputes among beneficiaries, especially if they are not drafted with careful consideration and clarity.

Moreover, without legal guidance, individuals creating handwritten wills may overlook important legal provisions, potentially leading to unintended consequences or the will being deemed invalid.

Handwritten wills in Alberta

A handwritten will can be legally valid in Alberta if it meets the necessary conditions outlined by the Wills and Succession Act. However, individuals should seek legal advice to ensure their wills accurately reflect their wishes and comply with legal requirements.

While handwritten wills offer a convenient option, especially for those with simple estate planning needs, consulting with a lawyer can provide peace of mind and help avoid potential issues down the line.

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